Now that the holiday roster freeze is over with, teams are free to go about their business and start making those mid-season tweaks to help them stay in the playoff hunt. Some teams have obvious issues, others not so much but there are a handful of moves that could be near the top of the list.
Ales Hemsky’s last days in Edmonton?
Ales Hemsky has been quarreling with coach Tom Renney of late with Renney even going so far as to complain about what kind of stick Hemsky is using. Hemsky’s production is a bit off but there’s no doubt he’s a solid scorer. Teams are asking about Hemsky, but the Oilers might not be selling yet. If Hemsky is just about done in Edmonton they should move him before he winds up hurt again.
Philly wants a defenseman
With no Chris Pronger to bash guys around for the rest of the season and playoffs, the Flyers will need some help on the blue line, but who? Tim Gleason has been talked about as a possibility and Kyle Quincey very well might be available in Colorado. Gleason fits the Pronger role a bit easier but Quincey provides solid all-around play at a young age. Paul Holmgren won’t make a panic move, but they’ll need a little something extra without Pronger.
Tampa Bay needs a lot of help
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman could use some help both on the blue line and in goal. With injuries last night to Victor Hedman and Eric Brewer, their defensive depth is taking a beating. Making matters worse is that neither Mathieu Garon nor Dwayne Roloson can stop pucks well enough for them to win. Yzerman won’t make a rash decision, but getting a long term answer in goal could go a long way to stopping the bleeding in Tampa. Coughing up big for Cory Schneider or Jonathan Bernier would be the obvious ways to do that.
Big shakeup in Washington?
Firing Bruce Boudreau and hiring Dale Hunter hasn’t done much to fix things in Washington which leads us to wonder if a big trade here might be the medicine the Caps need to turn things around. Would moving Alexander Semin help out? Perhaps sending Mike Knuble to a contender in need of help? GM George McPhee might have to take some long looks at the guys on his roster to figure out who should stay and who should go.
These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.
Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.
It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).
The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.
Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.
It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.
His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.
Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.
He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.
And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.
Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:
As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.
Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?
It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.
Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).
There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.
Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.
The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.
The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)
For more on the three finalists, click here.